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Church At Center Of Tree Controversy Won't Have To Pay Fine

The pruned trees at Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church. align=left

The crepe myrtles at Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church. Last spring, members of Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church felt like they were being bullied by the city of Charlotte. The tree police were on their case. The city's Urban Forestry staff found that the church improperly pruned several crepe myrtle trees. A sternly-worded letter said 47 branches were at issue, and warned there could be a fine of $100 per branch. The story went national. Mike Shroyer serves on the church's grounds committee. "We were shocked," Shoryer says. "I think some of the city officials got thousands and thousands of emails. And I know the church website got probably that many. We were just taken aback by the response we got." The heavy pruning violated Charlotte's tree ordinance, which is intended to preserve the city's' tree canopy. City tree officials doubted the crepe myrtles would survive, but decided to wait until fall before taking further action. Shroyer reports that all of the trees in question are alive. However, the city has ordered the church to plant six new trees. But Shroyer says there are no hard feelings. In fact, he thinks what started out as an ugly dispute has turned into a win-win for the church and city. "It's gonna be good for us to maybe get some more trees planted and some color on our campus," he says. "And for them to maybe look at the wording of their form letter and maybe changing it so hopefully in the future this won't happen to anybody else." Shroyer says the church hasn't decided what kind of trees to plant. City policy won't allow the church to plant new crepe myrtles.